Tomorrow my baby will be five. A whole hand old. As I think back over the past five years and how drastically different our lives turned out to be than what I imagined, I am reminded of the Robert Frost poem:
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I am a writer, but I am not a poem person. I love Shakespeare, the Bronte sisters, pretty much all Brit Lit, and historical fiction, but poems have never really "spoken" to me. However, this very well known poem came to mind for some reason as I was thinking about the road we are now on - the road less traveled.
People tell you when you have kids that they will change your life - but this isn't what they were talking about. The birth of a child doesn't alter most people's lives so completely that they can never go back to being the person they were before. The birth of our first son didn't do that, but the birth of our second - and his subsequent diagnosis of Down syndrome - did.
I have written a lot recently about difficulties we have faced and how the grief still hits me, but this post isn't about that. Five years in we have tackled some unbelievable obstacles. Way too many medical diagnoses - just one of which would be hard for many people to cope with.
But we have also rejoiced in amazing victories. Despite taking longer than most kids, Aaron has learned to walk, jump and he is starting to talk more and more every day. These are great milestones for any kid to reach but when you see how hard they work and all it takes to get them there, the accomplishments and celebrations are so much sweeter.
Five years ago I knew almost nothing about the special needs world. I certainly never dreamed I would be a part of it. But we have met some amazing people since then. We have learned things about ourselves, our family, our society and our world that we never would have known had we not been forced to walk this road.
Unlike Mr. Frost, we didn't choose this road for our lives. But there is beauty on this path that I never would have imagined or seen had we not taken it.
Happy Birthday, Aaron. You are a bright light in an often dark world. You are a spark of joy in a place of hardship. You may not fit the mold that most people expect, but you are so much more than they could ever imagine. I realize now that the dreams I had for you "before" actually pale in comparison to the ones I have for you now. I wanted you to grow up, go to college, be successful, have a family and be healthy and happy. Now I know that even though all of those things may not happen, so much more will. You are going to change the world, my son. You already have just by being in it. You will change lives because of who you are and how you live your life. You live your life full of joy and love and you share it with those around you. Just like we all should.
Five years ago, we took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.